7 Proven Strategies to Retain Human Capital

Hiring & Retention: Don’t Rest On Your Laurels

If you’re in the hiring and retention business, you are an investor — in human capital, time, effort, opportunity cost, and hope. Here are seven ways to best protect your hiring investment. Because even if you’ve batted .1000 on every hire you’ve ever made, there are no guarantees your next hire will fill your organization’s current and future needs to a “T.”

1. Give ‘em a Buddy

One very effective strategy that has been used by multinational corporations like Philips and other businesses around the globe, is to assign a “buddy” to a new hire. The purpose of the buddy is to help newbies connect with company culture and better understand how things really work — the type of tribal knowledge that doesn’t pop out of an employee handbook or a training video.

It works. The buddies will meet to check in at fixed intervals; maybe to just have coffee and chat, sometimes to help problem-solve and light the way. Not only is this relationship-building an opportunity to enrich a new-hire, but it also serves as a development opportunity for existing employees. For the price of a few cups of coffee and bagels, you may have the most cost-effective, low-tech way to retain employees as close as your nearest Starbucks.

2. Hone Your Elevator Pitch

Make the 30-second explanation of how your new employee’s work impacts your organization’s mission, values and goals as clear as possible. Strengthen your employer brand. Clarity is vital. New hires are at their peak of receptiveness when it comes to absorbing company culture shortly after being hired. There is no better opportunity to help them understand how their work will contribute to the organization’s success than during the new-hire onboarding process.

Can you explain it in 30 seconds or less? If not, go back to the drawing board until you can. If you can’t explain it, odds are your staff who are tasked with onboarding activities cannot either. Don’t waste this golden opportunity to engage. Make your first impression a lasting impression.

3. Outline Milestones

It’s vital to outline milestones for your new-hires to accomplish. Without carefully chosen and agreed-upon goals to help harness the “new guy/gal” energy in new employees, it’s easy for new-hires to become either overwhelmed (stressed) or under-challenged (detached). Both situations create an unfortunate burden on your new-hires, their team members, and your human resources staff.

How long should the onboarding process take? Some say as much as one year. Your organization’s needs may vary, but a strong, strategic commitment to supporting new-hires can help you avoid the common and expensive practice of approximately one-third of all new hires leaving their positions within six months. There are a number of SAAS solutions available that can help you take your employee engagement programs to the next level in support of your new-hire retention goals.  

4. Invest in Employee Referral Programs

Since they don’t all stay, when you invest in a new-hire you want to retain the keepers. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, 60 percent of recruiters report their best candidates come from employee referrals. Employee referrals are the gift that keeps on giving.

The right hire is a win-win for everyone involved. The trick for many organizations is how to formalize and scale their employee referral programs. Fortunately, this is not a new problem, and there are a number of ways to get help. Improving your employee referral program is one of the best, most underused opportunities to rally your hiring and retention objectives — and it can provide you with a real business edge. Just don’t leave it to chance or the benevolence of your employees. Find a scalable and repeatable solution that can help you hone your talent pipeline.

5. Embrace Remote Work

Dog trainers will tell you that if you have a dog that is likely to jump your backyard fence, you’ll find out pretty quickly. If Fido doesn’t try to scale your fence the first few times you leave him alone in the backyard, he probably won’t try to do so in the future.

The best way to know if your workforce can thrive as remote workers is to let them try to be remote workers. Some employees, new hires included, are well-suited to remote work. Some do better in in-person, structured office environments. In hiring, there often is no “try before you buy.” Your retention risk occurs after you’ve hired. Fortunately, there are ways to find the right cultural fit for you and your employees.

Unsure if remote work is a viable option for your organization? You can quickly find out. Set them up to succeed in remote work environments and work with them to make it a success. The engagement and retention rewards are plentiful: Remote workers are 50 percent less likely to quit than their cubicle jockey counterparts —so says the Harvard Business Review

6. Proactively Evaluate Compensation

Salary has long been debunked as the top-most retention strategy. However, overall compensation is still a key driver in employee retention. According to ERE Media’s TLNT blog, approximately 35 percent of employees will start looking for a job if they don’t receive a pay raise in the next 12 months. 

Expect to experience retention problems if your organization is unable to provide employees with raises. It’s a fact of (business) life. Raises, cost-of-living adjustments, and bonuses are not always feasible, of course, but you must be market-competitive to retain your best employees (the ones you don’t want to leave.) Be proactive. New hires will soon learn if your company has trouble handing out pay increases. Additionally, mitigate this risk by skillful onboarding of your new-hires by setting expectations.

7. Don’t Assume Your Leaders Will Be Around for the Long-haul

How is this a strategy, you might ask? Senior leaders are not immune to leaving for greener pastures. According to a 2015 survey in, one-third of leaders at companies with 100-plus employees are currently looking for jobs

Employees take notice when leaders defect. The fallout results in increasing pressure to retain employees, including new hires. By ensuring the senior members of your organization are fully engaged and committed to your organization’s success, you can help retain employees at every level of your organization. Your task: stay in touch with your leaders as much as you engage with your new hires through the onboarding process.

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